A self-described “one-woman show” Dawn (Bricen) LaMorte of Ithaca, NY, recently opened her own business, Sunrise Studios Design, where she wears many hats, including those of a graphic designer, event coordinator, writer and marketing consultant.
“I handle bids, proposals, conduct interviews, take pictures, write stories, set up meetings, track invoices and expenses, etc.,” LaMorte described.
According to LaMorte, she dreamed of starting her own business, one which would allow her to utilize her creativity and business sense.
“I was able to start my business, Sunrise Studios Design, this year and have hit the ground running with requests for writing and designing newsletters, creating promotional items, photographing and writing,” she said.
The 33-year-old St. Marys native graduated from Elk County Christian High School, Class of 1995, and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in art education, with a minor in graphic design, from Penn State University in 2000.
Dawn recently married Brian LaMorte, and they are raising Anika, 5 and Damian, 3, whom Dawn describes as her “bonus children.” She is the daughter of Dan and Phyllis Bricen of St. Marys. Her siblings include Dan Bricen of Utah and sisters Dana Kegerreis of Honeybrook, D’Arcy Fedorko of St. Marys and Dani Mangene of State College.
Following college, LaMorte worked for nine years in marketing, public relations and design positions in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.
This experience allowed her to fine-tune her skills in preparation for opening her own business.
LaMorte’s creativity is apparent in the name of her business.
“Sunrise Studios Design comes from growing up on Sunrise Road in St. Marys and also my name being Dawn,” she noted.
LaMorte said recent projects included the design of a Rubix Cube-style puzzle cube consisting of a series of photos which assembled into larger images.
“It was a challenge to design and even harder to create a 'sample' to show the client, but they were thrilled in the
end and I got a great piece for my portfolio!” she added.
In owning her own business, LaMorte said she enjoys the freedom it allows her in choosing how to allot her time.
“Though I am working quite a bit, I have my office set up at home so I can be flexible if my kids are sick or if I need a break,” LaMorte explained.
Among the challenges she faces are having time to “do it all and still nurture my husband and bonus kids.” LaMorte said she has yet to finish her studio’s website, as she has been busy with a myriad of projects and tasks.
LaMorte credits her high school art teacher, Peter Winklbauer, in helping her find her passion for art. In addition to encouraging her creativity, LaMorte said Winklbauer allowed her to visit the art room during her free periods to work on various projects.
“He (Winklbauer) taught in a way that let me see art as more than just paint or clay... he helped me see art in all aspects of life,” LaMorte said. “Additionally, my parents encouraged me to go to school for what I was interested in, but they also raised me with a strong work ethic and to be proud of my work.”
She added that she has always tried to be involved and help out in any manner during all of her work experiences.
“I learned to be a good multi-tasker and also got many opportunities to learn from coworkers and mentors,” LaMorte said.
She encourages anyone interested in going into the graphic design field to commit time to reading and observing.
“Inspiration can be found in the smallest things and if you create something from your heart, you are bound to have a positive response,” LaMorte emphasized.
While growing up in St. Marys, LaMorte was a member of Queen of the World Church.
“I came to appreciate the simple joys of life from growing up in a small town...being able to ride my bike to school, camping, working at the park, spending lots of time with friends,” she said. “It seems like days went by just a little slower, whether that is due to ‘small-town’ life, or just a shift in society overall, I'm not sure...but I like to think it is because St. Marys provided a bit of a cocoon to let me grow up at the pace I needed.”
Outside of work, LaMorte enjoys reading, gardening, going out to dinner and the beauty of Ithaca's waterfalls and rolling hills.
“It is truly a breathtaking place to live,” LaMorte said.